This real estate entrepreneur’s true calling: creating opportunity for others

While growing up on Staten Island, Jodi Pulice, the recipient of REBNY’s Bernard H. Mendik Lifetime Leadership in Real Estate Award, didn’t know anyone in commercial real estate.

“I was supposed to be a teacher, so I’d have summers off,” she recalls.

But after she graduated from Wagner College, a friend who had a sales position in commercial real estate introduced her to the field, and she took a job working for Mary Salerno of Berley & Co. Pulice opened her own business, JRT Realty Group, a full-service commercial real estate firm, in 1996.

“It was time to take the risk,” she says.

The business took off.

Since Pulice founded the company, she and her team have worked with the Durst Organization, the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the United Nations Development Corporation, among other major clients. Pulice was on the leasing team for the relocation of Condé Nast’s headquarters to 1 World Trade Center.

These days Pulice is responsible for a leasing and management portfolio that spans more than 13 million square feet for TH Real Estate, formerly TIAA, one of the largest institutional real estate investors in America; Taconic Investment Partners; SUNY Empire State College; and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.  She has completed leasing and sales transactions worth more than $3 billion, including the sale of the Seagram Building in Manhattan. She has represented the national field offices of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. at 92 locations.

Pulice embraces the fact JRT is woman-owned. It is now considered the largest fully owned full-service commercial real estate firm in the country.

JRT is certified as a minority- and woman-owned business enterprise by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and National Minority Business Council. Her business won the Top Diversity Owned Business Award and the Minority/Woman Business of the Year Award, given by the National Minority Business Council, which recognized the larger number of assignments JRT has given to other M/WBE vendors.

For Pulice, helping women and people of color to advance in a field where they are underrepresented has been an important mission. About 85% of her team is made up of women and minorities.

“In real estate, everyone is talking about their deal,” Pulice says. “Your deal lasts about 20 seconds. When I watch the success of the people I work with, it’s not 20 seconds. It’s a lifetime of watching them succeed. It’s my legacy.”

Her advice to newcomers? Don’t let the field intimidate you. She encourages newcomers to find a mentor they trust, to never take no for an answer and to live by the motto, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

Pulice finds she stays interested in commercial real estate because it is always evolving.

“Things change every day,” she says. “The changing environment keeps me interested.”

One thing that’s top of mind these days is her work on the board of REBNY’s Diversity Committee.

“They are absolutely out there trying to find out how they are going to diversify the real estate industry,” Pulice says.

Noticing how few panel discussions in the industry include diverse voices, she frequently contacts the organizers to raise their awareness.

“I write to the editors all the time,” Pulice says. “‘You mean there’s not one female, not one minority who could be sitting on this panel?’”

Pulice has been a board member of the Long Island YMCA; REBNY’s Commercial Leasing Board; the UNFCU Foundation, which provides health care and education for women and children; and the Jeffrey Model Foundation, which focuses on helping families affected by primary immunodeficiency disorders.

An avid reader, she combines her love of working out with listening to books on Audible.

“I just finished my seventh book since November,” she says.

And it was only early December.